Virginia makes sure that its public-sector appointees have a smoother transition when administrations change through its unique “At-Will Transition Briefing” program. Virginia’s governor is limited to one four-year term, which means that various appointees on staff and in agencies have a short tenure and more frequent job insecurity. To ameliorate this, the commonwealth provides targeted career coaching, résumé counseling, and seminars to its appointees during the final six months of the administration. Officials note that the types of at-will employees affected by administration changeover can involve young workers not well-versed in networking as well as older workers who may not be as familiar with newer tools.
Boston has announced an ambitious new plan that casts light upon and seeks to address persistent and systemic racial inequities in urban planning. Resilient Boston is part of the first citywide plan in 50 years, and views short-term “shocks” and long-term “stresses” through the lens of racial equity. The strategy includes metrics and targets aimed at addressing these different issues. The city will also use an economic mobility lab to spur efforts to grow the middle class and ease poverty as well as provide tools and education related to financial empowerment and climate risk.
In an effort to sustain the increase in library cards issued to and material checkouts by young persons, Rochester, New York, is permanently forgiving fines on overdue children’s materials. Building upon a pilot program that began last year, the goal is to further remove barriers to reading for young people, where the prospect of fines could deter checkouts or block library privileges. The city has recorded over 20,000 additional materials being checked out and a 10-percent increase in library cards since the pilot was instituted, and has determined that eliminating fines has had no effect on return rates. Rochester has budgeted $32,000 to address the lost revenue from the fines.
In a bid to increase public safety, Honolulu has become the first major US city to ban pedestrians from looking at cell phones or texting while crossing the street. “Distracted walking” is leading to an increasing number of injuries and deaths. Fines will start at $15 and go as high as $99, and can be issued if police catch pedestrians in the act. Elsewhere, London has padded some lamp posts to soften the blow for distracted walkers, and the city of Augsburg, Germany, embedded traffic signals into the ground near tram tracks to alert pedestrians looking downwards.
South Miami has become the first Florida city to mandate that solar panels be placed on all new residential homes. The ordinance, which also applies to existing properties whose owners increase the square footage of a home by 75 percent or more, is modeled after similar legislation recently passed by San Francisco and three other California cities. Supporters observe that solar power reduces home ownership costs, increases home values, creates jobs, and helps reduce carbon emissions. Opponents of the measure note that residents should be able to choose whether to have solar panels and that income from utility fees would be reduced.